'Missile Man' Kalam awarded a State Funeral, an exception or a norm?

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State Funeral or not, the 11th President of India and the 'Missile Man'-A P J Abdul Kalam- will continue to rule our hearts.

But on second thoughts, do State Funeral really define the person that he was? Sure it does.

APJ Abdul Kalam

What is a State Funeral and who is given these honours?

The State Funerals are public ceremonies that observe a strict rule of Protocol while honoring people of great national importance. Observed with great pomp and show, the celebrations have religious overtones and great military tradition.

It's main agenda is to involve the general public in a national day of mourning, only after the family of the deceased gives consent. This is also likely to generate mass publicity from both national and global media outlets.

[Read: Pic: APJ Abdul Kalam's last moment at IIM Shillong documented]


The changes down the line

State Funerals were initially reserved for current and former prime ministers, union ministers and state ministers. Initially the Union government could only decide who would be given the national funeral. However, things have changed now and the state government can now decide who can be accorded that.

[Read: People's President Abdul Kalam: 5 unknown facts speaking volumes about his simplicity, humility]

Some of the measuring criteria as to who should be accorded such a funeral include the contribution made by the person in the field of art, literature, science or politics.

As the chief minister of the state approves of a name, with the Cabinet's approval, the decision is made known to the senior police officials including the deputy commissioner, the police commissioner and the superintendent of police, who have to make all the arrangements for a state funeral.


What happens at a State Funeral?

During a State Funeral, the following protocols are a must:

[Read: The assignment which Kalam could not give to IIM students]

  • A state mourning or National day of mourning is officially declared.
  • The national flag is flown at half mast as per the Flag Code of India. This decision solely lies with the President of India, who also decides the period for which flag is to be flown at half mast.
  • A public holiday is declared.
  • The deceased person's bier or coffin is draped with the national flag with saffron towards the head of the bier or coffin while lying in state. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or burnt in the pyre.
  • He is honored with a gun salute when being buried or cremated.
Abdul Kalam

Acting ministers who got State Funeral

The following members of the Parliament and top acting ministers got the State Funeral:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru (1964)
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri (1966)
  • Indira Gandhi (1984)

However, there were some who were given the honours just for their contribution to the society and not merely for politics. In fact, a few of them were not even head of states, acting prime ministers or union ministers.


[Read: Live: PM Narendra Modi to receive Dr Kalam's body]

  • Mahatma Gandhi - (1948)
  • Rajiv Gandhi - (1991)
  • Mother Teresa - (1997)
  • Gangubai Hangal (2009)
  • Jyoti Basu - (2010)
  • Bhimsen Joshi - (2011)
  • Bal Thackeray - (2012)
  • Sarabjeet Singh (2013)
  • APJ Abdul Kalam (2015)
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